By Jack H. West, 1954.
Now seventh, the Book of Mormon claims that these ancient people had machinery. Remember Jarom, verse 8, told us that. III Nephi 3:22, and many other places tell us of chariots. They certainly knew the use of wheels. And yet when scientists in 1830 heard that the Book of Mormon told about the machinery of the ancient people on this continent, they said, “Why, that could not possibly be true! They did not even understand the use of wheels.” And thy reminded us that the first white men who came to this continent saw an old Indian buck condescending to lift two sticks on his squaw’s back. All of their worldly goods were lashed to those sticks, and then the buck went off through the forest and looked over his shoulder and said, “ug,” which meant, “Come on, Squaw.” She, not knowing any better, followed, dragging all their worldly goods behind her on the point of two sticks. And so the scientists reminded our people that these Indians did not even know the use of the wheel, the very basis of machinery. There are some scientists today who still stubbornly believe that the ancient people did not know the use of the wheel.
Well, let us go to some of the testimony. Page 39 of the Americas Before Columbus shows us a picture of the very evidence found on this continent of the use, anciently, of wheels. This photograph is of a child’s toy—the body of a coyote, as near as we can tell from the appearance, with four little stone wheels on it. It was found under the streets of Mexico City in a buried city of the Nephite people. Did you know that there was a whole city under Mexico City? The Mexican people were wondering why their buildings were sinking down there. The great Palace of Arts had sunk some twelve feet, and they wondered why. Now they are assuming there is a marshy condition causing it. They are building buildings now with thirty and forty foot pilasters of reinforced concrete going down into the earth.
A construction crew was digging at the corner of Guatemala and Argentina streets, right in the heart of Mexico City, for the foundation of a new building. When they got down a few feet from the surface, suddenly their drill dropped down into a cavity in the earth. They could not imagine what had caused this, so they dug down and found a room in one of the giant structures of the ancient people. They had dug all around it and found the same quality cement that they found out at the ruins of Teotihuacan and many other places. They found the same angle-slope to the side of the pyramid that they found in the other cities of these ancient people, the same “winged serpent” sculpture and insignia, and many other things which assured them that it was a city of the Mayan-Toltec people, or the Nephite-Lamanite people as we know them. In the grave of a child in this ruin was found this first evidence of the wheel—the stone toy, with four stone wheels attached.
To continue the story of this ruin under the streets of Mexican City, a law suit was filed; in fact, it has been settled yet. The government insisted that this location be used for an archaeological site, and the owners of the lot insisted that they were going to erect a building on it. And while the government was not looking, the owners went ahead with their drilling. They got down another thirty feet and dropped down again. So they went down in there and found the remains of an “archaic” city of apparent giant size. And so there have been three cities, not just one, on the land which Mexico City is now built on. The lowest one was of the Jaredite people; on top of that, after thirty feet of volcanic debris had covered the earlier ruins, a city of the Nephite-Lamanites was built; and finally, there is Mexico City today.
Some scientists said, “Well yes, we grant this child’s toy in an ancient grave does show that they understood the use of the wheel, but this is just a toy. We cannot believe, nor will we believe, that they used them for anything but toys, until we see something a lot larger.” Then one day on the shores of Titicaca at the place of the Ten Doors in Bolivia, scientists found some ancient wheels that were “larger,” and how! I was up in that country, some 16,000 feet high, and I rode down on an Indian autocarril (railroad bus) to an area of about 12,000 elevation on the shores of lake Titicaca. I saw ruins all the way. On page 94 of Farnsworth’s book, we see four giant wheels. Stretching, I can reach seven feet; add two more feet to that and you will have the diameter of each of these wheels—nine feet in diameter, sixteen inches wide on the tread of the wheel. The stone is extremely hard, I am told. A strange thing is seen—square holes for the axles instead of round holes.
Scientists have reconstructed, with the help of these wheels, a conveyance which they think resembles the ancient wagons or transportation units. Now we begin to see why they were so careful to give stability to their roadbeds, so that they could carry tremendous weights over these roads. We learn they carried weights up to 300 tons with apparent ease, over great distances and over rugged mountains. Scientists believe the ancients used a wood stronger than our iron-wood for axles, and spacers between the two pairs of wheels; and the axles were square on the ends to fit snugly into the square axle holes, and they rounded and greased in the center. Some of the extremely strong ancient rope (and they were the best rope-makers in the world) was then looped around the axles to form a rope cradle in the middle. Then away they would go with loads up to 300 tons, the wagons being pulled by horses.
We brought back pictures of hardened copper cog-wheels, perfectly machined to fit on round shafts and showing signs of tooth wear; we also have a picture of a threaded stone nut which is a “dead-ringer” for an octagon nut today, and of very large stone cog-wheels with machined centers. There can be no question that these people had metallic tools and the use of the wheel, the basis for machinery.
Now you can turn to many current encyclopedias and they will tell you of the use of the wheel by these people. When you see some of their buildings, it is evident that they must have had such things.
The eighth claim of the Book of Mormon which we will consider is that these people had horses and elephants. We read (Enos, verse 21; Ether, the story of the Jaredite people, 9:17-19.) that these people had horses and elephants, which they used as beasts of burden. It was a fantastic thing to make such a statement in the year 1830 because there was no evidence then that such a thing was true. In fact, some scientists are still a little bit stubborn. It was not until somebody found an arrowhead imbedded in the bone joints of one of these ancient elephants of this continent that some of the scientists gave in. They had found hundreds of skeletons of elephants; down at the Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles they had found evidence, not only of the ancient elephants; but also of the ancient horse. They revamped their finds down to the great museum in Exposition Park in Los Angeles where you can see them if you would like. But even though they found these skeletons by the hundreds, some scientists still maintain that they were not here contemporarily with man. Then, when they found any arrowhead imbedded in the joint of an elephant, they must have scratched their heads and said, “Well, now, let us see. Elephants do not shoot arrowheads at each other!”
Having all manner of fruit, and of grain, and of silks, and of fine linen, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things;
And also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep and of swine, and of goats and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man.
And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms. (Ether 9:17-19.)
Elephants and horses, we are now certain, were here. Almost any recent encyclopedia you want to turn to will tell you of the ancient horses and elephants of this continent, but in 1830, the statement sounded amazing. Now I do not know about cureloms and cumoms. All I know is that there are two other animals down there in the Brea Tar Pit collection, which were found alongside the elephants and horses. These show signs, they tell us, of use as beasts of burden. We have never seen anything like them, but there they are, and maybe they are the cureloms and cumoms.